Experiences > Trekking opportunities > Asia > Great Wall of China

One of the Wonders of the World and one of the most extraordinary structures ever created, the Great Wall of China is truly a must-see for every traveller. Building walls to defend China from invasion was a strategy dating back to the 8th century BC, but it was under the first Emperor Qin Shi Huang from 220BC that the separate sections were restored and linked to form one structure stretching 5,000km from the Jiayuguan Pass in the Gobi Desert to Shanhaiguan on the east coast. Much of the original work on the Wall was completed during the Qin and Han dynasties up to 220AD but it was revived and extended during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) due to conflict with the Mongols. Over a million workers were involved in its construction and many died with the effort. Today the Wall, partially ruined, stretches across mountains, plateaus, grassland and desert over nine provinces, though only one-third of the original remains. There are several sections of the Wall that can be walked along, allowing you to appreciate the breathtaking nature of the construction and how it integrates into the surrounding landscape.


UNESCO World Heritage Site

Location: China

Great Wall of China
Badaling
Badaling is a renovated section of the Great Wall that is perhaps the most popular with visitors. You'll get a picture perfect Wall structure but may have to share it with many other visitors.
Mutianyu
90km north of Beijing, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall has been restored and is popular with Chinese tourists. Here the Wall winds along high ridges and valleys for 3km, providing some sweeping views. This section is noted for its watchtowers, with 22 along its length including the famous Zheng Bei Tai castle complex, comprising three inner-connected watchtowers.
Jiankou
West of Mutianyu, the section at Jiankou, built by the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, is unpreserved and provides some of the most picturesque scenery of the Wall due to the very mountainous nature of the region.
Gubeikou - Jinshanling
The section from Gubeikou to Jinshanling is a 5-6 hour trek along unreconstructed wall characterised by crumbling sections and ruined watchtowers with overgrown vegetation. There are many steep climbs but the reward is some stunning scenery as the Wall undulates along mountain ridges. Rebuilt in 1378, this section was the location for many battles.
Jinshanling - Simatai
The 10km section of the Wall from Jinshanling to Simatai was rebuilt in the 16th century. Both ends have been restored but the section in between contains some partially ruined sections, adding to the picturesque quality. This is one of the most beautiful sections of the wall as it undulates over hills and down through valleys with many steep sections. There are 30 watchtowers along this section of the wall, providing shade and rest stops on the 5 hour trek. Between the 14th and 15th towers is a section known as the 'Stairway to Heaven' - a very narrow path along an 80 degree incline.
Huangyaguan
South of the Gubeikou-Jinshanling-Simatai section and near the Imperial Qing tombs is the Huangyaguan section. Huangyaguan means ‘Yellow Cliff Pass’, named for the yellowish hills nearby. This section, 41km in length, is unreconstructed and is noted for its various different-shaped watchtowers, including the Phoenix Tower, the largest on the Great Wall. This area is relatively quiet except for once a year when it hosts a gruelling international marathon.
Luowenyou
The section at Luowenyou, northeast of Huangyaguan, is open to trek for about 10km. The Wall here is quite rugged and steep in parts but offers spectacular vistas of the Wall and surrounding area.
Shanhaiguan - Jiaoshan
This is the easternmost section of the Great Wall, where it meets the Bohai Sea at 'Old Dragon's Head' or Laolongtou, where there is the Great Wall Museum. The walk takes you to Jiaoshan Pass, where the Wall first heads into the mountains, and from where there are some spectacular views.

Travel to Great Wall of China

Organised group tours: The following tours for Great Wall of China are available:


Details and Booking

Tour Map of China Highlights + Walk The Great Wall

China Highlights + Walk The Great Wall

£1940

excl. flights

17 days

Get beyond the tourist façade of the countries you visit. Focus on the local culture, past and present, and discover the lifeblood of any country – its people. Discovery and culture tours uncover different ways of life, and offer the opportunity to meet and sometimes stay with local people or tribal groups. Our discovery tours explore cultural sites – both ancient and modern – and help you learn about the people and their culture. Visit the remote tribes of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, live the nomad life in desert camps or meet the local people of the high Andean altiplano in Peru. There’s no better way to get to the true heart of a country than through its people.

China Highlights + Walk The Great Wall

This adventure combines some of the Orient’s main cultural sights with a walk along some of the lesser-visited parts of the Great Wall. We travel from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong to the imperial palaces of Beijing. Cruising along the Li River we pass vast paddy fields and unusual limestone pinnacles. We fly to Xian where we discover the incredible Army of Terracotta Warriors and the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. In Beijing we explore the famous Tiananmen Square and the maze of palaces and gardens of the Forbidden City. Starting from the ‘Old Dragon’s Head’ - where the Wall meets the sea - we walk towards Simatai. We spend several days hiking along some of the most spectacular sections, stopping to take a boat ride across the lake at Panjiakou and visit the Eastern Qing Tombs.


Details and Booking

Tour Map of Great Wall Trek

Great Wall Trek

£1190

excl. flights

10 days

Since the early days we have maintained that trekking is ideally suited to exploring villages and monasteries in remote regions and getting close up to inspiring mountain scenery. We design trekking holidays to perfection as so many of our past trekkers will testify. Our treks help you discover the remote trails of the Himalaya in Nepal, Tibet, India, Sikkim and Bhutan; the dramatic Karakoram in Pakistan; the Andes from Patagonia to Peru; the Table Mountains of Venezuela; the Rockies and National Parks of North America; the High Atlas of Morocco; the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia; Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and Mount Meru in East Africa; along the Great Wall of China and ancient pilgrim trails in Japan; hill tribe country in Vietnam and Thailand; Turgen Mountain in Mongolia; the; the European Alps and Dolomites; Iceland’s rugged wilderness; the Southern Alps of New Zealand, Australia’s remote outback and Tasmanian trails.

Our diverse range of natural history and cultural adventures combine our expert knowledge of remote regions with our ability to devise exhilarating journeys. There is little or no camping on these trips while at night we stay at comfortable hotels, local inns or well-appointed lodges. On these journeys you may enjoy the local hospitality of the inns in the remote countryside of Japan, explore a Buddhist monastery deep in the mountains of Tibet or delve into the history of the Great Game in Kashgar, China.

Great Wall Trek

Trekking along a remote section of the Great Wall outside Beijing in Hebei Province. We camp in simple and comfortable exclusive locations and explore the Great Wall over seven days, trekking between villages and seeing the quiet sections of the Wall, generally away from the crowds. The scenery is vast and diverse as we trek our way through swaying corn cropped fields to distant green river valleys with one of the great wonders of the world as our backdrop. Camping near to villages provides us with true rural hospitality in the 'real China' and allow a rare interaction with the local people. Visiting a number of sections of the wall makes this particular journey so special. In Beijing we visit the capital’s major historic sites such as the Forbidden City and Tiananmen. We also indulge in the culinary delight that Chinese cuisine is so famous for. The Beijing food experiences will no doubt compete with the trek itself as one of the highlights of this entirely unique adventure.


Details and Booking

Tour Map of Walk The Great Wall

Walk The Great Wall

£799

excl. flights

10 days

Over more than 30 years Explore has developed a diverse and exciting range of more than 100 walking and trekking holidays. Whether you’re new to walking holidays, a casual hiker or a seasoned trekker you will find plenty of expertly planned walks and treks to choose from. We specialise in small group walking and trekking holidays. On these you will be in a group of up to 16 along with an experienced tour leader. Depending on the trek you may also have guides, porters, muleteers, cooks and camping crew with you too. For many trekkers the camaraderie with the crew is one of the highlights of the holiday.

Walk The Great Wall

Stretching from the Yellow Sea to the edge of the Gobi Desert, some 2700 miles, the magnificent ramparts and watch towers of the Great Wall were built to protect China's northern frontier from raiding Mongol horsemen. For over 2000 years it has zigzagged over the mountains and rivers of China like a fabulous dragon. Our walk concentrates on some of the most interesting and spectacular sections, and gives us an insight into China 'off the beaten track'.


Details and Booking

Tour Map of Walk the Great Wall of China

Walk the Great Wall of China

£764

excl. flights

10 days

Great value, reasonable prices, quality experiences. Comfortable and varied tourist-class accommodations chosen for location and character. Mix of public and private transport for the best overall experience. All the top highlights included, plus plenty of time to explore on your own.

Designed for outdoor adventurers. Hungry to walk, hike, trek, bike, raft and kayak your way across the world's greatest destinations? You don't have to be a decathlete to take an Active trip, just someone with a healthy love for getting active and the outdoors.

Walk the Great Wall of China

Centuries after its construction, China’s Great Wall remains one of humankind’s engineering marvels. At over 21,000 km (13,048 mi) in length, the Wall is a trip in and of itself. You won’t tackle the whole thing on this ten-day trip, but you’ll return home with a deeper understanding of the life that goes on around and upon it. The Beijing-to-Beijing route will take you to small villages that have stood for centuries in the shadow of this massive tribute to human will and introduce you to the cuisine, culture, and history that make this one of China’s most captivating attractions. The Wall’s been standing for centuries. Isn’t it about time you turned up?